(CN) - Given Greece's economic unrest and recent unfriendliness toward immigrants, Germany blundered in deporting an Iranian national back there, the EU high court ruled Thursday.
Kaveh Puid fled Iran in 2007 and entered Greece by air with false papers. After spending four days there, he traveled to Frankfurt and lodged an asylum application with German authorities.
Germany rejected Puid's application, however, because it said Greek authorities alone could review his request. Puid lodged an appeal with a German administrative court before immigration officials deported him back to Greece.
The court in Frankfurt eventually ruled that authorities illegally deported Puid. On further appeal, a higher court in Hesse asked the Court of Justice of the European Union to weigh in on whether EU law gives immigrants the right to ask any member state to process an asylum request, regardless of point of entry.
In its decision Thursday, the Luxembourg-based high court said that EU law prohibits member states from transferring to a country with a history of unfriendliness toward immigrants. In this case, "systemic deficiencies" in Greece's immigration protocol and the negative sentiment of Greek citizens toward refugees could have subjected Puid to "inhuman and degrading treatment," according to the ruling.
But the court added that EU immigration law gives Germany the option of finding another member state to process Puid's application. If that had failed, Germany would have had no other choice handle the man's request since he made his initial application there.
"The member state in which the asylum seeker is located must, however, ensure that it does not worsen a situation where the fundamental rights of that applicant have been infringed by using a procedure for determining the member state responsible which takes an unreasonable length of time," the court wrote. "If necessary, the first mentioned member state must itself examine the application."
Ironically, German immigration officials reversed their position during the appeal and granted Puid asylum in 2011.
Subscribe to Closing Arguments
Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.